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How to Eat Well During the Holidays

During the holidays, people often do one of two things:

  1. Give up on healthy eating completely and end up feeling "guilty" about what they ate

  2. Deprive themselves of all the holiday foods they love and end up feeling miserable

Sound familiar?

Healthy eating habits don't have to make or break your holiday. Here are some tips to help you navigate all of the delicious foods that you can – and should – enjoy this holiday season.

Don’t skip meals to “save your calories.”

Yes, you still need to eat today, even if you ate too much yesterday.

Eat consistent meals even if you plan to indulge a little later in the day. When you skip meals or under eat, it makes you extra hungry later. This leads to overeating. Skipping meals also slows down your metabolism, making weight loss more difficult. Start your day with a protein-packed breakfast, include some non starchy vegetables at lunch, and enjoy your festive dinner with no remorse.

Eat dessert

You read that right! Eliminating sweets altogether may not be a realistic goal during the holidays. Overly restricting foods you love can make you feel unsatisfied and lead to a binge later. Instead of denying yourself dessert and craving it later on, plan to have a small dessert with your meal to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Prepare a healthy dish for gatherings

If you enjoy cooking, prepare a healthy dish that everyone can enjoy. You can even adjust a holiday favorite to make it healthier by adding plenty of vegetables, swapping fatty cuts of meat for leaner protein sources like chicken, turkey, or fish, and going light on the sauces, butter, and salt. Use low-sodium chicken broth, lower fat cream soups, or consider replacing mayonnaise or sour cream with Greek yogurt. You may create a new dish that will become a family favorite!

Take a walk

Exercise sometimes falls to the bottom of our to-do list during the busy holiday season. While traveling or when you have house guests, you may not be able to make it to the gym. That is okay! Exercise can be as simple as walking around your neighborhood. Especially after a large meal, a 10-30 minute walk can aid in digestion, blood sugar control, and weight loss. Encourage your loved ones to take a walk with you.

Practice mindful eating

Eat slowly, and pay attention to how the food tastes. Consider how different foods make you feel. Close your eyes, and really experience this meal that only comes this time of year. Food is meant to be enjoyed! Mindful eating allows you to not only enjoy your food more, but also helps to prevent overeating.

Use the plate method

When eating at restaurants and holiday parties, use the visual of the plate method to help guide your food choices. Fill your plate with mostly vegetables and protein, add a portion of your favorite starch-based dish, and don’t forget to save room for dessert!

Drink plenty of water

Sugar sweetened beverages are high-calorie without very much nutritional value. A small glass of sweet tea or punch is fine in moderation, but try to limit sugary drinks as much as you can. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of plain water daily. If you partake, consider alternating alcoholic beverages with a glass of water. You'll feel better the next day!

Give yourself grace

The holidays are a special time, and it is okay to indulge. There is no need to overly restrict foods you love. Enjoy this time spent cooking and eating with family and friends. Don't forget, you still need to eat today, even if you think you ate “too much” yesterday!

Happy Holidays!


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